There used to be a time when Sony had a limited lens line up fit for wedding photography. Early adopters braved adapted Canon lenses or stuck with average lenses such as the 35mm f/2.8 ZA.
This was the primary reason why I delayed moving across to Sony.
The A7Sii, with its ability to see in the dark was tempting – but there was no native glass to warrant the risk.
The A9, with its insane fps and no-blackout EVF, and impressive eye-AF, even that wasn’t enough to move me.
But it wasn’t until the A7m3, with its highly attractive price point, … I began crunching the numbers.
Never a big fan of relying on a 24-70mm (my Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 is bad at best), my biggest hurdle was finding the appropriate replacement prime lenses that would fit in with my workflow. Predominantly, I relied on fixed focal length lenses with the 85mm being my focal length of choice.
Nikon had spoiled me, as had Canon with their 85L, even Fujifilm, when I was shooting on the X-T1 with the XF56 gave me what I wanted.
But what about Sony?
And so, I began my lengthy research.
I knew Sony had released a behemoth of a 85mm lens, their G Master f/1.4 lens that would cost me a kidney and a half.
At the time, Sigma had only announced that they were going to offer (a) select native FE mount Sigma Art lenses and (b) provide lens conversions for the same select Art series prime lenses.
Being a wedding photographer with an entire kit of Nikon glass, adapting was not an option that you lucky Canon wedding photographers have.
That’s why I built this tool – to help identify which lenses you need to acquire to replace your favorite focal lengths.
It’ll help answer common questions such as:
What’s the best 35mm prime for Sony mirrorless?
What alternatives to the Sony 50mm f/1.4 are there?
I can’t live without my 135L, what are my options with Sony?
I shoot a lot of wide compositions with my 24L, does Sony have an equipment to my 24L?
Does Sigma have an Art series prime lens in 85mm?
Go on, give it a whirl – it’ll take less than a minute!
“How do I turn on face recognition in video for a7Riii/a7iii?” – a user on DPReview says.
Another user replies, “The manual states that face recognition will not work with 1080p at 100/120 fps and also when 4K output via HDMI. But I can’t get it to work on normal 4K 25/30 fps.”
In a Facebook group just for Sony a7iii owners, one user asked, “When I am in 1080 25p the face detect-AF is on but in 4K 25p, the face detect-AF is off). Is there a way to turn it on in 4K 25p”
I own two (2) Sony a7iii camera bodies and I can most definitely confirm that face detection does work when recording 4K (internal) video.
For the record, face detect-AF is available in 4K (24, 25, 30 fps) on both the Sony a7iii and a7Riii. In this blog post, I’ll show you the steps to (i) troubleshoot, and ; (b) enable so that face detect-AF is working when you record video in 4K.
Troubleshooting: Why isn’t face detect-AF working on my Sony a7Riii / a7iii?
First of all, you should be aware that face detection cannot be used in certain scenarios.
To begin the troubleshooting process, ensure that you are not in any of these settings:
Other zoom features than the optical zoom.
[Posterization] under [Picture Effect]
Movie shooting with [Record Setting] set to [100p] of [120p].
When the S&Q [Frame Rate] is set [100p] of [120p] during slow-motion/quick-motion filming.
Also, check that face detection function has been enabled. You can do so by:
MENU > AF2 (6/14) > Set. Face Prty in AF > Face Priority in AF > On
Since you’re there, you may as well enable the sub-menu item underneath: Face Dtct Frame Dsp > On
Solution: Why isn’t face detect-AF working on my Sony a7Riii / a7iii?
The answer to why you your Sony a7iii / a7Riii does not face detect-AF when recording 4K video (24, 25, 30 fps) is because the camera has enabled proxy recording.
What is proxy recording?
Your camera has the ability to record low-bit-rate proxy movies when recording SAVC S movies. The following video explains what proxy recording is in depth:
When proxy recording is enabled, you will notice a small px symbol on your screen. With proxy recording enabled, [Face Priority in AF] will be greyed out.
To disable proxy recording (and to re-engage fact detection AF in 4K video recording), do the following:
MENU > Movie1 (1/9) > Proxy Recording > Off
Once done, you will have access to the wonderful feature of face detect-AF when recording video in 4K 24, 25, and 30 fps. You will know that it is working when you start seeing white squares popping over people’s faces.
Having reached number one in full frame sales in North America, the Sony Alpha series of mirrorless cameras has been a huge hit, with myself even converting across from my Nikon D750. Not all Sony Alpha cameras can record video internally in 4K though with the first Sony Alpha series mirrorless camera to offer this being the Sony a7Sii (ILCE-7SM2).
If you are in the market for a Sony Alpha mirrorless camera for video production, especially earlier models to save some money and 4K is what you are after, luckily for you I have compiled a bunch of Q&A to help you decide which Sony Alpha series camera you should look into:
A: The Sony α7 (ILCE-7), whilst having a 35.8×23.9mm CMOS full frame sensor, does not record video in 4K (3840 x 2160). It offers 1920x1080p at 60 fps (28 Mbps), 1920x1080p at 24 fps (24 Mbps) as well as some lower resolution feeds (e.g., 640 x 480 VGA @ 30fps).
Q: Does a7ii film 4K?
A: Building upon the success of the Sony α7, the Sony α7ii (ILCE-7m2), this full frame mirrorless camera does not record video in 4K. Like its predecessor, the Sony α7ii offers 1920x1080p at 60 fps (50 Mbps).
Q: Does a7iii film 4K?
A: Yes! The Sony α7iii (ILCE-7m3) offers 4K (3840×2160 pixels) video recording across the full width of the full-frame 35.6×23.8mm image sensor. In video mode, the camera uses full pixel readout without pixel binning to collect about 2.4x the amount of data required for 4K movies and then oversamples it to produce 4K footage.
Video clips can be up to 29 minutes long (NTSC/PAL).
Specifically for 4K, the Sony α7iii records 3840 x 2160p at 23.98 (24), 25, 29.97 (30) fps in 100 Mb/s and 60 Mb/s.
Q: Does a7R film 4K?
A: The Sony α7R does not record video in 4K (3840×2160 pixels). It offers 1920x1080p at 60 fps (28 Mbps), 1920x1080p at 24 fps (24 Mbps) as well as some lower resolution feeds (e.g., 640 x 480 VGA @ 30fps).
Q: Does a7Rii film 4K?
A: Yes! The Sony α7Rii (ILCE-7RM2) does offer internal 4K recording at 100 Mbps at 24, 30 fps.
Q; Does a7Rii film 4K?
A: Yes! The Sony α7Riii (ILCE-7RM3) offers internal 4K (3840×2160 pixels) at 100 Mbps at 24, 25, 30 fps.
Q: Does a7S film 4K?
A: Yes, the a7S (ILCE-7S) can record video in 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) however, it cannot do this internally. It can output ‘clean’ 4K via HDMI and depending on where the model was purchased, it may be NTSC-only, PAL-only or offer bother NTSC and PAL. As such. You may have access to only 24 fps or 30 fps (PAL) or 25 fps (NTSC) frame rates in 4K.
Technically, the Sony α7S is 4K but in terms of practicality, avoid this one model as it can only do so externally.
Q: Does a7Sii film 4K?
A: It sure is. The Sony α7Sii offers internal 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) in 24 (NTSC), 25 (PAL), 30 (NTSC) fps at 60Mbps and 100Mbps for a maximum duration of 30-minutes, in XAVC S format. For those wanting 120 fps (100fps for PAL users), you can achieve this in 1080p mode. This means that you may slow the footage by 4-5x in post.
Q: Does a9 film 4K?
A: You bet it is! The Sony α9 records internal 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) in 24, 25, 30 fps at 60 Mbps and 100 Mbps for a duration of up to 29-minutes.
Q: Does a6000 film 4K?
A: No the 2014 Sony α6000 does not offer 4K video recording.
Q: Does a6300 film 4K?
A: Replacing the 2014 Sony a6000, the 2016 Sony a6300 does offer internal 4K video recording in 24 and 30 fps at 100 Mbps for a maximum duration of up to 29-minutes.
Q: Does 6500 film 4K?
A: At the time of writing, the Sony a6500 is the company’s top-tier APS-C mirrorless model. Naturally, it offers internal 4K video recording in 24, 25 and 30 fps. When filming in 30p, a 1.23x crop takes place. Additionally, the a6500 has the full array of customizable picture profiles (Cine1, S-Log2, S-Log3).
Older Sony Alpha mirrorless cameras offer great value for film makers. However, most early models of Sony Alpha cameras do not offer internal 4K video recording. The a7Sii, a7iii, a7Riii, a6300, a6500, and a9 are the cameras you should look into if 4K video recording is a must-have
I have always preferred full frame cameras and the only APS-C cameras that I have owned were the ones that I bought at the beginning of my photography journey (Nikon D40, Nikon D70, Nikon D70s, Nikon D90, Nikon D300). My first full frame camera was the Canon EOS 5D.
When doing research for this blog post, I realized that most articles focused on full frame users. My interpretation based on existing blog posts were that most authors saw APS-C cameras and corresponding crop lenses as being cheap. Perhaps I was seeing what I was wanting to see. But I felt an urge to create an article that would benefit those of you who have a crop sensor camera, even if it were just a simple list of the best Sony lenses for those of you who want to venture out into the wilderness to capture stunning landscapes.
As always, I am not a professional lens reviewer. I’m not even a lens reviewer! Everything you will read here is purely based on my personal opinion. So with that said, let’s get started!
The Sony a6500, a6300, and a6000 are Sony’s line of consumer-level mirrorless digital cameras. They each have an APS-C (crop sensor) that comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. The a6500 is no slouch and many a wedding videographer has the a6500 as their backup or b-roll camera.
Personally, I don’t think I will ever buy a crop sensor camera mainly because my photography and film making is for commercial purposes. This means that I am willing to pay high ticket prices for the right tool. But that’s just me. I know that many of you coming across this article have no intention of being a professional photographer – you just want to enjoy photography. So I am here to help.
In this blog post, I will reveal which 3 lenses are the best for landscape photography for the Sony a6500, a6300, and a6000.
For those new to photography, let me define some foundational things first.
What is the difference between APS-C (crop) and full frame?
I spent an hour researching, writing and deleting what I had written so I decided to look for some good explanations on YouTube. This video explains the technical difference between APS-C and full frame the best.
And since ZY Productions was doing such a good at explaining complicated concepts and jargon into easy-to-understand language, here is another video that is related to the current subject matter: why crop lenses do not work on full frame cameras.
What are the advantages of APS-C cameras?
Based on my research, I found two key advantages of APS-C cameras.
Cost: crop cameras and lenses tend to be cheaper than their full frame counterparts.
Size and weight: a smaller sensor usually means a smaller form factor for the camera which in turn, typically results in a lighter camera. The benefits of a smaller and lighter camera is less strain on your neck, shoulders and/or arms when you carry it all day. Plus, a small form factor takes up less space in your bag (or allows you to use a smaller bag).
Here is a random (but extremely intellectual) video re: depth of field
The theory discussed in the following video went straight over my head but for some of you, maybe you will find it interesting if not entertaining at the very least.
My definition of landscape photography
Not all landscape photos are taken using a wide-angle or ultra-wide-angle lens. Some landscape photos require a telephoto lens. For example, I stitched a panorama of Yosemite Valley with 24 vertical images taken with a 35mm lens. I also photographed Half Dome using a single 35mm lens as well as 85mm. There is no such thing as a focal range for landscape photography. It all depends on the subject matter and what you wish to convey with your photograph.
Typically speaking however, most regard wide-angle lenses as the choice for landscape photography. Wide apertures are generally unnecessary as most landscape photos are taken in good light (hand-held, mounted on a tripod) or done so with a long exposure. And if you made it through the video above, you will appreciate why a wide aperture is not necessary for images where you want maximum depth of field.
For this reasons, the following recommendations are based on ultra-wide to wide-angle lenses for your Sony APS-C camera.
The best landscape photography lenses for the Sony a6500, a6300, and a6000:
Sony Vario-Tessar T* 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS
Sony E 10-18mm f/4 OSS
Sony E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS
Why the Sony Vario-Tessar T* 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS is the best landscape photography lens for Sony a6500, a6300 and a6000
This is the crème de la crème of wide-angle lenses for Sony APS-C cameras. Small and compact and sporting a ZEISS badge, reviews online are glowing for this lens. Given that it is a wide-angle lens, barrel distortion is most prominent between 16mm and 18mm. Also at 16mm is where the worst corner sharpness is seen. By stopping the lens down to f/11, corner sharpness improves. Stopping down beyond this introduces diffraction.
For those of you who like to do stitches, I should note that there is no AF/MF switch on the lens. You will have to control this on your Sony a6500, a6300, or a6000.
With a 35mm equivalent range of 24-105mm, the Sony Vario-Tessar T* 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS is more than just a landscape photography lens. With it’s mid-telephoto reach, this single lens is the perfect all-purpose lens for your Sony a6500, a6300 or a6000 making it my top pick as a landscape photography lens for Sony APS-C cameras.
Why the Sony E 10-18mm f/4 OSS came in second best
This is wide. How wide? Ultra-wide. And if you like having a sweeping landscape in front of you, then perhaps this Sony E-10-18mm f/4 OSS with very fast AF acquisition, a solid metal construction and 5-stops of image stabilization is for you.
Is the Sony E 10-18mm f/4 OSS sharp?
Yes. Yes it is. Like all lenses, sharpness across the frame is best when stopped down to f/8.
How is the distortion?
Well, this is an ultra-wide-angle lens so the warping of objects near the corners is going to be there.
Originally, this was going to take the #1 spot given that it does offer a very wide field of view. But give the focal range is limited to 35mm equivalent 15mm to 27mm, I decided to give the mantle to an all-rounder. Feel free to disagree.
Last but not least is the Sony E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS
Most reviews that I read rated this lens (Sony E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS) as the crème de la crème all-in-one zoom lens for Sony APS-C cameras. And whilst I do not disagree with this opinion, I specifically wanted to provide three landscape photography lens options for Sony a6500, A6300 and a6000 camera owners.
The Soy E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS has an impressive range but optically, it shares the same characteristics as other zoom lenses. That is, centre sharpness, even when wide open, is great but corner sharpness improves only when stopped down to f/8.
Given that the lens is significantly bigger and subsequently heavier than the Sony Vario-Tessar T* 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS, I relegated this lens to the third position.
Can I use a full frame Sony E-mount FE lens for landscape photography on an APS-C body?
There is nothing stopping you from doing this as all Sony e-mount FE lenses are backwards compatible with Sony APS-C cameras such as the a6500, a6300 and a6000. However, you’ll be paying a premium and losing out on the wider field of view due to the crop factor. But if you intend on upgrading to a full frame Sony mirrorless camera in the future, it may make sense to invest in a full frame Sony E-mount FE lens first.
This was probably one of the reasons why I never like APS-C cameras much. I found that premium wide-angle lenses to be limiting compared to on full frame format.
Many years ago (and I mean many many years ago) I owned a Sony NEX. That was the extent of my knowledge of the Sony E-mount. So when I got my hands on the Sony a7iii, I had much to learn. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t do the due diligence and I ended buying an APS-C lens (Sony Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA) for my full frame Sony a7iii.
Most. Expensive. Crop lens. Ever.
*cue slow clap*
To give you a helping hand and to hopefully steer you away from making the same $898 mistake, I am sharing the lens research that I went through when I was considering which lenses to buy for my Sony a7iii.
7 Best All-Purpose Sony Lenses
These, in my humble opinion, are the 7 best all purpose Sony lenses for your Sony Alpha full frame mirrorless camera (A7, A7ii, a7iii, a7R,, a7Rii, a7Riii, a7S, a7Si, a7Sii, a9):
Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Dii III RXD
ZEISS Batis 25mm f/2
Sony FE 28mm f/2
Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA
And here are my reasons why each of these 7 lenses made were included as the best all purpose Sony lenses – let me address each lens one by one.
Note – these are all based on personal opinion. Take it as you would with anything you come across on the Internet – with a truckload of salt.
Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS
I didn’t like this lens when I first got it.
It was sharp. It was quick to focus. It had great focal range coverage. But looking at the images on the rear screen of my Sony a7iii, I was left wanting more.
Then I realized, this was not an issue with the lens itself but rather, how Sony glass is in general.
You see, I was used to seeing a lot of contrast from my images. I typically photograph with a lot of Sigma Art primes with my Nikon D750. I wasn’t seeing the same level of contrast with the images produced with the 24-105G. Or perhaps, I wasn’t used to seeing images that weren’t shot with a wide aperture?
A few months later, I really enjoy using this lens – not so much for photography (I prefer using my existing Nikon gear for stills) but 100% for video work.
The range is so useful! Having 24mm and 105mm in one lens makes the 24-105G the ideal lens for run-and-gun situations. The OSS works great with the a7iii 5-axis IBIS such that I will deliberately handhold for video recording as opposed to using a monopod and/or gimbal.
The 24-105G focuses fast. It does so silently and ever so accurately.
What more could you ask of a lens?
But it is f/4 only!
Look, not everything has to be photographed with a shallow depth of field. And if you are someone who doesn’t need to have everything in the background blurred out, f/4 is not a bad compromise. Given how well the Sony a7iii performs at high to extremely high ISO ranges (6400-12800) and the fact that this lens with the camera can achieve focus quickly, low light situations are no longer an issue.
Many other people agree with my assessment as this lens is impossible to find in stock at the time of writing (late August 2018).
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Dii III XRD
This lens just makes sense as the perfect all-rounder. Essentially, if you had to pack one lens with your Sony a7iii on a holiday, this would be that lens. Wide enough for landscapes and long enough for portraits with bokeh.
I have owned the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 on both Canon and Nikon mounts. Truth be told, I have never liked them. I bought them because it was significantly cheaper than the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L or Nikon 24-70 f/2.8.
I also had a weird issue with the EF/F-mount Tamron 28-75mm lenses where the image stabilisation would interfere with the DSLR mirror slap, thus resulting in a distorted image output. It was weird and weirder still, I saw the same issue across two different mounts.
Anyways … the good news for you is that the Sony FE mount Tamron 28-85mm f/2.8 Dii III XRD does not have inbuilt stabilisation. It did however have an initial issue upon release but Tamron quickly acknowledged the issue and made a firmware patch to address the problem.
Cheaper by $1,400, the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 is a worthy alternative to the $2,200 Sony FE 24-70mm f.2.8 GM. And when compared to the 24-105G, the wider f/2.8 aperture can make a huge difference when photographing and/or filming in low light environments.
Are you likely to miss the 4mm towards the wide end of the lens? Probably not.
ZEISS Batis 25mm f/2
Zeiss glass has a reputation for extremely sharp optics – even all the way to the corners. And the ZEISS Batis 25mm f/2 does not disappoint.
It has super fast autofocus, incredible color rendition, has little distortion that is super easy to correct in LR/PS, and did I mention that it is extremely sharp – even all the way to the corners of each frame? Yeah, I think I mentioned that already.
The 25mm focal length makes it a wide angle lens, but not overly wide that you cannot use it for environmental portraits.
If you enjoy street photography, I think the ZEISS Batis 25mm f/2 is a good lens to consider. Personally, I don’t own this lens because I find anything wider than 30mm to a bit too wide for the stories I like to tell. And that one time I actually wanted a fast wide prime, I bought a crop lens ..
Extremely sharp optics does come with a hefty price tag though and that is why #4 is a more economical recommendation.
Sony FE 28mm f/2
This is the lens I should have bought instead of the Sony Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA. When paired with the Sony 21mm Ultra-Wide conversion lens (SEL075UWC), it transforms into a FE 21mm f/2.8.
Without a doubt, the ZEISS Batis 18mm f/2 and ZEISS Batis 25mm f/2 are the top of the range. But they come at a premium price tag. The Sony FE 28mm f/2 is a small and affordable alternative for your full frame Sony Alpha series.
It doesn’t have the metal build quality of the Batis but at a fraction of the price – it makes sense.
The Sony FE 28mm f/2 is one of the faster FE lenses. It will autofocus much quicker on the a7iii than on the older a7/a7rii models. On older models, autofocus speed and accuracy is significantly poorer in low light. But on the a7iii – even in low light, it shines.
Some people dislike cat eyes bokeh. I’m indifferent. From the sample images that I have look at, the bokeh looks pleasing for a wide angle lens.
For photographers who love backlit situations like me, the good news is that the Sony FE 28mm f/2 handles flare very well. And yes, distortion is prevalent as it is a wide angle lens. Correct it in post production! Easy fix.
At under $500, this is a fast and affordable prime lens you want in your kit.
Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
Ah the G-Master badge ($$$)
Imagine a list recommendation of all purpose Sony lenses if this gorgeous beauty were not included? It would be blasphemous!
But why does it sit at a low #5 when image quality, autofocus speed, autofocus accuracy, and build quality are all 5-starts?
Mainly due to its price tag. And let’s remember, this is a very subjective list based purely on my personal opinion.
Comparing the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM with the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Dii III XRD is similar to comparing a Toyota Camry with a Mercedes C63 AMG. Both are vehicles that will take you from A to B, both vehicles have the essential features, and both models can travel at speeds above 80mph. But similar to the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM and the Tamron 28-75mm Dii III XRD, the reasons why someone buys a Camry versus a C63 AMG are vastly different.
If price is not an issue, you should consider the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM. I don’t see how this lens could possibly disappoint you. It does everything a fast 24-70mm zoom lens should. Some reviews have made the weight of the lens as a negative – this doesn’t phase me one bit.
But personally, I’d pick up the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Dii III XRD and use the price difference to buy more gear.
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
I think I’m more of a 50mm guy as a walk around lens but I am probably in the minority, hence why I have chosen to include the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art as one of the 7 best all purpose lenses for your full frame Sony Alpha camera.
I have always loved the build quality and optical quality that the Art series has delivered, on Nikon and on Canon formats.
And luckily for you, the Sony FE version is no different.
Fast aperture for extreme bokeh and subject separation and fast autofocus – it is a photographer’s wet dream.
However, for movie recording using AF-C, I would stick to a native Sony FE lens instead (#4 – Sony FE 28mm f/2) for best communication between lens and camera and silent autofocusing.
Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS
Nobody seems to mention this lens for some reason. I didn’t even know it existed until I started doing research for this blog post.
I did some digging around and the reviews were interesting to say the least. Owners either hated the lens or loved it. Let me explain.
The Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS is not the sharpest of zoom lens. True to its focal length, it is an all-purpose lens that leans more towards a jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none. Whilst it focuses quickly, the sharpness is nothing to write about and the bokeh left a lot to be desired. Stopping the lens down did not yield sharper images. Reviews indicated that the corners were noticeably soft at 24mm but got better between 35mm and 50mm. However, towards the tele end (70mm), once again, centre sharpness was decent enough but the soft corners were back, even softer than at 24mm.
But here’s the thing (and why the Sony T* 24-70mm f/4 OSS made it onto this list of best all-purposes Sony lenses), it is actually a solid lens. Not the best by a long shot but for an all-rounder, it ticks all the boxes.
If you are someone who prefers native Sony lenses but don’t want to fork out for the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS or the considerably pricier Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM, then the Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS is a good all purpose lens to carry around with you.
Personally, I’d pick the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Dii III XRD for its bargain price, faster aperture, and overall sharpness at all focal lengths.